a peek inside the fishbowl

08 Jul, 2013

Sunday Bikedays

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Easy ways to make kids happy|Ottawa

I’ve promised myself to that this is the year I take better advantage of Sunday Bikedays.

In case you aren’t familiar with this Ottawa tradition, Sunday Bikedays (officially called the Alcatel-Lucent Sunday Bikedays) happen every week during the summer. The city closes certain scenic roads to cars for part of the day, most notably:

  • Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway (5.5 kilometres)
  • Colonel By Drive (7.6 kilometres)
  • Rockcliffe Parkway (7.5 kilometres)
  • Gatineau Parkway
  • Champlain Parkway
  • Fortune Lake Parkway
  • … and 3.5 kilometres north of Meech Lake Road (parking lot P8).

You can read more about it (and reference maps etc) on the NCC website. Yesterday was our second foray, and it was great.

The four of us entered the Sir John A. Parkway right near Dominion Station in Westboro and decided head west. The weather was just right, and the pace that we set was fairly easy. There were all kinds of people out and I was surprised at how busy it was. I spotted a skateboarder, many in-line skaters and runners, and even a few wheelchairs.

We stopped briefly at Deschenes Rapids for a breather and a quick peek for beach glass:

It's Sunday Bike Day! #ottawa

.. and continued on as far as Lincoln Heights, at which point we got on a different bike path. Destination: Farm Boy! Mark brought his panniers so we could do a small grocery shop. (Those things can hold a ton of food! Even big bags of milk. Amazing.)

We took the path back the way we came, not really pausing for much. My butt was hurting by the time we approached our turn off. (Note to self: buy new bike seat! Unfortunately my ride is getting less comfortable as I get older.)

An outing to the Sunday Bikedays is a wonderful thing to do with kids in Ottawa. There is so much to see if you look closely enough. There were lots of geese (young ones too!), ducks, and red-wing blackbirds, and big fat dragonflies darting around the grass. Mark spotted a garter snake sunning itself on the bike path.

It is food for the soul!

Some random observations about our little 15km journey along the parkway.

  • There are all kind of cyclists: the speedy spandex-clad types as well as families with teetering children. The racers go as fast as cars, so you do need to know the rules of the road and above all, pay attention to everything around you.
  • Bell-ringing seems to be optional (a personal bugaboo of mine and something I’ve written about before) so prepare to be passed at high-speeds. Some families may be more comfortable sticking to the bike paths and staying off the road.
  • Make it fun! Kids really appreciate an interesting destination, and it makes it easier to get them out there on repeat occasions. I realized that the goal of our bike rides doesn’t always have to be the ice-cream shop or the candy store (although we do that too), but non-food destinations work just as well; like the beach, a friend’s house, the playground.

Have you ever participated in the Sunday Bikedays in Ottawa with your kids? I’d love to hear about your experience if you have!

4 Responses to "Sunday Bikedays"

1 | Lana

July 8th, 2013 at 9:56 am


From my experience, the Colonel By route is the best for families biking with small teetering kids. There are tons of families on that route each Sunday (and you get to stop at Brewer Park for the farmers market too!)

2 | andrea tomkins

July 8th, 2013 at 11:04 am


Great suggestion. Thanks Lana!

This would be a good time to mention that Lana (the commenter above, a.k.a. Modal Mom) shared some great family cycling tips in the summer issue of Capital Parent Newspaper. You can check those out right here!

3 | Jen Hughes

July 8th, 2013 at 2:12 pm


You should look into getting a gel seat, which slips right over top of your existing bike seat. Squishy, soft comfort!

4 | andrea tomkins

July 13th, 2013 at 9:06 am


I will! Thanks for the recommendation Jen!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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